Engagement at CPA

Campus, Community & Artist Connections

Introduction to Our Work

The engagement team at Carolina Performing Arts creates connections: between campus, community, and artists locally and across the world.

Our initiatives have helped create a national model for integrating the arts into the academy and beyond. CPA’s artist fellowships, festivals, and community events all live under the auspices of our engagement program, which has evolved into a dynamic force, traced back to its beginnings under the 2012 – 2017 Arts@TheCore initiative, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 

read about the history of engagement at cpa

In 2012, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded a five-year $800,000 grant to Carolina Performing Arts for the creation and support of Arts@TheCore, an initiative providing opportunities for students and faculty alike to engage with artists and the performing arts, which ultimately laid the foundation for all of CPA’s engagement efforts to this day. These first programs included lectures, seminars, faculty workshops, and curricular connections that aimed to place the performing arts at the core of a 21st century university education. In its final year, 89 courses from 21 different areas of study integrated CPA performances into their curricula, and CPA artists engaged in 32 class visits throughout the academic year. The Arts@TheCore grant ended in 2017, but it created a lasting paradigm for CPA as a university presenter dedicated to sparking student and faculty investment in the arts.

As CPA’s Arts@TheCore grant ended, CPA was awarded a new grant from the Mellon Foundation for the Discovery Through Iterative Learning (DisTIL) fellowship, which introduced artists to UNC’s campus for multiple semesters to collaborate with faculty in a department outside their own area of expertise, providing each the opportunity to gain new insights into their respective work and the world through the lens of the other.  Through these collaborations, the DisTIL fellowships have solidified long-term, sustainable relationships between faculty/scholarly research and artists’ practice and process.

In 2018, Carolina Performing Arts announced Creative Futures, a groundbreaking $1.5 million initiative funded by the Mellon Foundation, intended to make possible a transformative vision of community engagement: collaborative creation in the arts that is informed by faculty research and driven by students. The Creative Futures artists-in-residence are deeply engaged with partners from both UNC and the local community, with a goal of creating boundary-breaking projects relevant at the local, university, and national levels.

The engagement program at Carolina Performing Arts has evolved with the organization, with shifts that have been informed by the needs of our partners both on- and off-campus. Artists, students, and faculty remain primary to our focus.

Our Impact

Since just the 17/18 season, engagement at CPA has curated more than 300 engagement events, reaching more than 6,000 UNC faculty and students through music and dance masterclasses, “Performance Notes Live” pre-performance events, artist classroom conversations, and other opportunities. Curricular connections are far from limited to the arts and humanities: faculty from the departments of political science, journalism, women’s and gender studies, occupational therapy, and many others have worked with CPA to enrich their students’ experiences. Our engagement team is also the home for CPA’s partnerships with Carolina Covenant scholars and Honors Carolina, among others.

Learn about Recent and Ongoing Projects

  • Feedback: Fall 2020’s The Institute for Performance, a free and completely virtual set of classes for arts enthusiasts in the Triangle area of North Carolina, taught by UNC faculty and renowned artists in the CPA network with the goal of radically democratizing access to learning
  • Stories on Citizenship: a free event in fall 2018 emceed by students from the Campus Y and featuring performances by local nonprofit organizations including Community Empowerment Fund, El Centro Hispano, Immersion for Spanish Language Acquisition (ISLA), the Jackson Center, and Student Action with Farmworkers, followed by a community dinner 
  • UNC World View’s Global Music Fellows: an interdisciplinary professional development program  facilitated by World View, where twelve fellows from throughout North Carolina integrated the music of Wu Fei and Abigail Washburn, CPA/Andrew W. Mellon DisTIL Fellow, into curriculum materials. Washburn and Wu’s 2020 album produced by Smithsonian Folkways includes access to an accompanying teaching toolkit created by the World View fellows
  • Discourse: a community-centered social change initiative by CPA artists-in-residence Nathalie Joachim and Allison Loggins-Hull of Flutronix, which has resulted in a new musical work incorporating personal histories of Chapel Hill residents and a companion installation at the University Libraries, with partners including the Center for the Study of the American South and the Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History
  • CPA Library Guides: a collaboration between University Libraries and CPA in the 19/20 season, which curated materials from Library collections to create resource guides for Carolina Performing Arts performances

While many of our engagement initiatives are closely related to performances on CPA’s season, our work has expanded to include projects that harness connections with organizations and artists across the globe, as well as those much closer to home. Explore our calendar of all events anytime, or contact our engagement staff with questions or comments. 

A student singer performs for opera singer Isabel Leonard, who listens while smiling.

For Students

Learn about the ways the UNC student experience is enriched through Carolina Performing Arts.

An 80-year-old white man laughs, while seated at a table with other people in a discussion setting.

For Faculty

Learn about opportunities to integrate CPA performances and artists into coursework, plan masterclasses and other activities, and more.

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